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Where to Start: My First 30 Days in a New Role

Jena Ready
Jul 22, 2021

Here I am sitting in my office as I begin to write this blog and I catch myself asking “Where to start?” the minute I open the Word document. I can’t help but think how ironic it is considering that question has been extremely common these days.  

I recently accepted a new position after 3 great years at my previous University. Transitioning into a new job happens incredibly fast in college athletics. I literally feel like I was picked up out of Winston-Salem, NC and dropped in Clemson, SC in the blink of an eye. When transitioning into a  new role, you hardly have the time to process what is happening, not to mention the time to prepare for this new journey.  

As I wrap up the first month in my new role at Clemson, I want to share how I navigated the first 30 days of starting a new job and how I answered the reoccurring question,

“Where to  start?” 

Okay, so let’s take it back to when this question appeared first. It’s May 17th and I call my head coach to accept the job as Director of Strength and Conditioning for Women’s Basketball at  Clemson. LET’S GOOOOOOOO! I am FIRED UP.  

Click, I hang up the phone…and BOOM. There it is. “Where do I start?”  

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I actually knew EXACTLY where to start…. On Stockx to see what Jordan’s come in purple and orange colorways.  

Once I completed that immediate priority, that question instantaneously reappeared in my head, and I started to feel a wave of stress come over me. 

“When do I tell my current head coach?”  

“How do I tell my players?” 

“How am I going to break my lease?”  

“When am I going to have time to find a place to live?” 

These are just a few of the questions that compiled in my head over the next 24 hours. I went from super excited, to feeling sick to my stomach about telling my current athletes, to very nervous, and then back to looking at purple and orange Jordan's again... 

So, I figured out a pretty awesome life hack to answer all of these questions and it is something I continued to use every time this question came up over the past 30 days.  

It isn’t always as simple as it may seem, and it takes a lot of deliberate practice.  The life hack is... BE YOU

Rather than asking yourself “Where to start?”, try asking yourself these two questions instead:

  1. Who are you? 
  2. What do you value most?

Who am I? I am a badass, I am vulnerable and wear my emotions on my sleeve, I own way too many pairs of sneakers, I am a leader and mentor. I am a former athlete and competitor.  

What do I, Jena Ready, value the most? I value relationships, I value vulnerability and authenticity.  

So how do I practically apply this? 

I don’t rehearse what I am going to say to my head coach or team. I call them and talk to them like I did with my family because that is the type of relationship I have with them. I am vulnerable and honest with why I made this decision, I show my emotions and don’t hide from them. 

I also buy my first pair of purple and orange Jordans. 

Evaluations CTA

BOOM. It’s June 3rd. I am sitting at my desk in Clemson, SC.  

Yep, you guessed it. That damn question pops up as I sit down and stare at a completely empty office and desk. 

Where do I start? 

I remembered the life hack. Who am I? What do I value most? 

I value relationships. My ability to create relationships with our staff, players, and administration is what made me successful in all my previous roles and it is exactly how I got right where I am right now. 

How did I practically apply this?  

I realized me sitting in this office chair worrying about designing programs or setting up excel sheets isn’t going to help me create the relationships I want with any of our staff or players.  Instead, I got up and went to the practice court and offered to rebound for one of our players I saw when I was walking into my office earlier.  

I know how to design a training program and could do it in my sleep, but I don’t know this athlete shooting on the practice court. Prioritizing what actually matters and most needs your attention is a great place to start.  

Speaking of, here is another life hack- want to find an easy way to connect and talk to your athletes? Rebound. The excel sheets can wait.  

Fast forward to a semi-less empty office, it’s now June 26th  and the entire team is officially on campus. I am planning our summer program and preparing for our first team lift. 

BOOOOM AGAIN. There it is. 

“Where to start?”  

“What am I going to say?” 

“What rules or policies will I have?” 

Life hack enters the chat. 

Who am I? What do I value most? 

I am a former student-athlete and competitor. I am a leader and mentor.  I value consistent, foundational, and measurable training. I value high attention to detail and energy during training sessions. I value creating an environment that athletes want to be a part of and come back to.  

How did I practically apply this? 

I did some “reverse engineering” and thought about what I wanted a training session to look like in September, October, November, and all the way through March when we are in the final four training with the top-of-the-line equipment provided by the NCAA provided (Yep, still mad about that). I put together a training program that will help us get to that vision.  I wrote out my non-negotiables and specific examples of how these will be applied in the weight room so I can clearly communicate the environment we want to create in each training session. I kept it concise and only allowed myself to have 5 non-negotiables max. I didn’t write out every single “rule”. I wrote out what type of training and what type of environment we want to establish and what behaviors will allow us to accomplish that.  

One last big BOOOM! It’s July 1st. I am wearing my purple Jordans from Stockx. The team is standing in front of me, waiting to begin our first team lift.  

Where to start? 

EASY.  

Who am I? What do I value most?

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